In Alert Expectancy

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I hope you’re having a successful week. I am well aware that sometimes our days are filled with trials and tribulations. That’s when hope comes into play.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” [Romans 5: 1-5 NIV]

In The Message Bible, that word “hope” is translated as “in alert expectancy”. Isn’t that a wonderful phrase? Do you live in alert expectancy, looking for a brighter tomorrow? Or have you lost hope, as so many have?

I know all about that. I’ve endured depression and spiritual and physical weakness, when I felt completely incapable of enduring one more ounce of pain and sorrow.

If you examine the verses above, times like those build character, like steel in the forge. There are so many things in life I’d rather not experience, but if all of life was easy street, I’m not sure I’d have much to talk about. For one thing, that’s never going to happen. Everyone goes through difficulties in life. Some, more than others. You may question, “Why, me?”

One possible answer is found in scripture. Your character is revealed and strengthened by the forge of troubles, in much the same way as that mix of metals is heated white hot and pounded into the perfect instrument for use.

How do you endure such a test? By living in alert expectancy, giving God’s grace entrance into our lives. That grace is like the cold water the hot, newly-shaped steel instrument is dipped into. It cools the steel to the point it can be handled.

Okay, then how do you find this hope—this “alert expectancy”?

I renew my hope by reading passages such as the one above. I read encouraging scriptures, listen to worship and praise music, build myself up with devotionals. Listen to uplifting sermons. Take long walks and meditate. Spend time with loved ones. Spend time away. Get a mani-pedi. Go shopping. Whatever it takes.

There are times when I’m muddling through life, because I don’t have time to get away. I have too long a list of necessary things. I have people waiting on me to finish something. Do this, do that. And all the while, my heart is aching. I’m in mental and spiritual anguish that can result in physical pain.

Morning comes. I open the blinds to let in the bright sunshine and my heart is lighter. Hope is renewed. It’s baked fresh every morning, and its fragrance fills my spirit and lightens my load. I can do this. I CAN live in alert expectancy, waiting for the JOY that always follows.


In Rebecca’s Legacy, my protagonist goes through some character-building tribulations that lead her to examine her young life and reassess what’s really important. She discovers something that’s been there all along. The grace of God.

Too easy? I wouldn’t call what she endured easy.

Another character in the book goes through a trial-by-fire, too. For him, it’s an adjustment that changes his life path. That change sets to right so many things, giving not only him, but his entire family a brighter future.

So, if you knew ahead of time that what you are asked to endure for the present will result in a better future for yourself and your family, would you submit? Read that scripture passage a few times, until the words penetrate your heart and mind. Until you gain understanding. Look it up in The Message Bible and read it again. Let the Word of God build you, refine you, until you’re ready. Ready for what?

Your answer will come. Wait for it–in alert expectancy.

If you have time, please visit today’s interview with Margaret Kazmierczak. She marooned me on a desert island. You’ll find it here —the interview, not the island— Coffee, life and encouragement on the island couch.

Therapeutic Writing

Therapeutic writing. What thought pops into your mind when you read or hear those words?

As an author, I often write to cleanse my heart and mind of painful things. I’ve found it therapeutic. So, I was not surprised to hear this discussed in a writer’s meeting.

Not only did the exercise help a young woman process the pain of loss, but those writings helped her form a scene in her work-in-progress, as her main character dealt with the loss of a loved one. In the finished product, the character’s emotions are raw, her actions and conversations, achingly real. Readers will fully engage with the scene and the character.

What about non-writers–ordinary folks looking for a way to ease their emotional suffering?

I’m not a professional counselor, but I would suggest it to anyone. When I journal my feelings, I’m not writing for others, so I don’t have to worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence construction. I just pick up a pen, or open a new document on my preferred electronic device, and start writing. I write out my pain, shout my anger, tell a deceased loved one how I feel. All the things I didn’t have the chance to say when they were still alive.

Then what? I keep it hidden away. Shred it. Burn it. It’s up to me. Most writers will definitely want to keep theirs, and remember the depths of pain and despair, so they can write from their heart and bring a scene to life.

But what if someone can’t, or doesn’t want to write? Talk. There’s an app for that. Find a free, or inexpensive speech-to-text program and use it. Sometimes, seeing those words in written form–repeating them out loud–promotes healing. Sometimes.

I love to go for long walks. And those seem to be the times when my creative processes are flowing. I have all kinds of ideas. So I get out my phone, open a note, and start dictating. Sometimes I throw them out, but many times, I find good material that I can use in my work.

Mom, please write down your memories! How many times have I heard this? One of my sons wants me to write down the stories I’ve heard all my life. Stories about long-dead family members. Stories that will be lost, unless someone writes them down. Telling those stories is a quick and easy way to store them. Then I can transcribe them or use a speech to text program to bring them into a word document.

This process is both therapeutic and healing for me, because some of these memories bring up old hurts and painful losses. Talking them out, writing them down, can help me deal with the pain and restore my hope.

Though I’ve barely tapped the surface here, I hope I’ve encouraged a reader or two, or at least given you food for thought. If you’d like to study it further, there are numerous articles written on the subject of therapy writing or journaling. It’s important that you resist guilt feelings over delayed or prolonged grieving. And never assume to know exactly what someone is going through (even if you’ve suffered a similar loss or trauma).

Everyone processes emotion in their own way. This is why I believe writing therapy is a good thing, because it is so personal.

How do you process grief?

(Click to Tweet)  Everyone processes trauma or loss in their own way. #WritingTherapy #journal


Who won last week’s book giveaway?

Congratulations, Sandra Ardoin! And happy reading. I hope you enjoy the book!

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Hope for the New Year

Relax

Recover

Refresh

Renew

Rekindle

shutterstock_165919043-SNOWThese are good words for the last few days of 2016. The holidays are over. It’s time to box up the decorations. And of course, there’s one other “r” word–returns. I plan to wait a few days on that, let the lines shorten.

Hope rises with the sun in the morning. Yes, most of winter lies ahead of us. Many changes lie ahead, too. But still, one of the most renewable energy sources remains strong–Hope.

Hope wakes us up in the morning, keeps us going from one day till the next.

My source of hope is my faith in God, and in my Savior, Jesus Christ. You may regard that as false or foolish hope, but it’s real to me. I’ve lost nothing if I continue through life believing in that blessed hope. I’ve gained a life of peace and contentment (even through the difficult, gut-wrenching losses).

Next week is a New Year! Maybe I’ll investigate a few “P” words–productive, possibilities, peace…

Happy New Year!

May I Hashtag You?

One afternoon in mid-May, I happened to see the following hashtag phrase trending on Twitter:

#DescribeYourselfIn3Words

Of course, I had to click on the hashtag and see how everyone answered it. Among my favorites:

silently judging you – obsessed with pizza – cuter than u – inspired by love

Silly, maybe, but whatever the purpose of the game, it got me thinking. If I had only three words, how would I describe myself? Let me turn that around and ask, how would you describe yourself?

Always a Mother – even after my children are grown and have moved out of the house, made homes of their own, have children of their own, I’m still their mother. I’ll always mother them, as long as I have breath.

Quiet, but smart. Okay, that’s a stretch for me, but it’s true. I’m often quiet. When you’re quiet, you hear things. You read and learn things that others miss because they’re too busy talking. When I was a child, many not-so-nice things were said to me and about me. As I grew older, I figured something out. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. It does matter what you think about yourself.

Humor sweetens truth. Another stretch, I know. But it’s part of me. My dad was the youngest of four children born into poverty. Things got worse when his father was killed. Life was extremely difficult at times. Grandma was a single mom during the Great Depression. But all of them, including Grandma, had this amazing sense of humor. When they got together, the room was filled with laughter, singing, dancing. They were happy and blessed.

RaftPolaroidHumor got them through the hard times. You may be thinking I should say faith got them through, or hope took them through. In truth, both faith and hope played a bigger part than humor. I look at it like this:

Faith is like water.

Hope is like a raft that floats on the water.

Humor is the air that fills the raft and makes it float.

So those are my three 3-word descriptions of myself. I challenge you to think of yourself in a positive light. Pick out your best traits, reduce them to three words you can easily remember, and say them over yourself. Try building yourself up, rather than tearing yourself down. And please feel free to share them with me. I’d love to see what you come up with.